Illness

Most Powerful Words: I need your help.

Posted in Career Change, Caregiving, Illness on March 23rd, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off
Need Help

Need Help

One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is:  I need your help.

People everywhere love to be able to help someone else.  What keeps them from doing so is that they don’t know who needs help, or even if they do, they don’t know what help those folks need and how they could provide that help.

Turns out that if you will just use this powerful phrase, almost anyone will do their best to provide the help you need.   It works in person, it works on the telephone, and it works with email.

Here’s a script where you can just fill in the blanks:  “Hi.  My name is ______ and I need your help.  What I need help with is ______________.  Can you help me with that?”

Several years ago there was a woman in our job seeker group who missed the deadline for submitting an electronic resume for a job she was eminently qualified for.  So she took a paper resume to the employer’s location and asked the receptionist to help her by giving her resume to the HR representative.  The receptionist was happy to help, and the woman got the job.

I’ve seen it work over and over in an amazing variety of situations.

Put it to the test.  Make a list of the things you need, whether you’re a job seeker, a caregiver, or someone dealing with a chronic illness.  Think of people who might be able to help you with what you need.  Then make your requests.  You’ll be amazed at the goodness of people.

Bless some one’s life by letting them help you.  And be blessed in turn.

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Photo Credit: annethelibrarian on Flickr

Will God Give You More Than You Can Bear?

Posted in Caregiving, Grief and Grieving, Illness on March 15th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Ron Edmondson started his blog post this way…

How many times has someone said to you, “God will never put more trials on you than you can bear”? I challenge you to show me that in the Bible.  The problem I have with this myth is that it keeps so many believers wondering why they can’t handle their problems, falsely believing they should be able to, because someone once told them the lie that God would not put more on them than they could bear.

He as an important point to make.  It’s important to reassess some of the statements that we all hear and maybe say often when we’re in difficult seasons.  This is one of them.  So put your thinking cap on and read the rest of what Ron had to say.

By the way, he writes lots of good practical stuff, so you may want to add his blog to stuff you check on from time to time.  Or just follow him on Twitter.

Paying It Forward: Who Can Use Your Support?

Posted in Broken Relationships, Caregiving, Grief and Grieving, Illness on March 11th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Paying it forward is a hot phrase these days, particularly in social networking circles.  Basically it means doing good works for others to repay the good that has happened to you.  (Read this Wikipedia article if you want more background.)

There are people you know who are going through a difficult season.  All of us know someone who’s between jobs.  You probably know someone who is providing care for a family member.  Likely, you also know someone who is dealing with a chronic illness.  And I bet you know someone recovering from a divorce.  Or someone grieving the loss of a loved one.

You may have been through one or more of these life seasons yourself, and had people demonstrate kindness that made a huge difference for you.  Or maybe you’ve been spared thus far from these seasons, but know, as we all do, that they will come.

How about meeting one of the folks you know who’s going through one of these times for coffee or lunch, giving her a call, sending a card, or offering some specific help that you’re aware he needs right now.

That’s paying it forward.

Mortality: “I can’t believe God would…”

Posted in Grief and Grieving, hospital visits, Illness on March 10th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

“I can’t believe God brought me through all of this (describing past crises) to let this cancer end my life.” cancer patient

“I can’t believe God would…” or something like it is a phrase that all of us use from time to time as we try to make sense of what’s happening in our lives.  Our reasoning is based on what we know, what we feel, and what we want.

The phrase that fires in my mind when I hear someone else utter that phrase is, “But I can believe God would, because I’ve seen it in the lives of other faithful people.”

I don’t say it out loud, of course.  I’m not there to batter hope, or to argue theology, as if I was qualified.  But there’s this conflict in our minds because our experience, our logic, our understanding informs us that while sometimes God saves us from tragedy, sometimes He doesn’t.  None of us can explain why, just as none of us can explain God.

I spent some serious time yesterday in conversations with people who were being forced to confront the fact that their disease might prematurely end their lives.  They might not get to see their children grow up, or their grandchildren grow up.  They might not get to grow old with their spouses.  Their (our) dream for this life might not be realized.

These were people with deep faith, a faith we share.  A couple of them used a variation of the opening phrase of this post, giving voice to their struggle to understand what was happening and God’s place in it, voicing hope against long odds that God has another plan for them.

We are all mortal.  But we don’t like it.  All those we love are also mortal, as I’ll be reminded again today when Dad and I go to visit Mom’s grave.  But we don’t like that either.

This life, with all it’s struggles, is precious.  The lives of those we love are precious.  Getting to see kids grow up, to see grand kids grow up, to grow old with our spouse is precious.

Yet because of our mortality, we don’t always get to experience these joys.  Disease, an accident, or the willful act of another can change all of that in an instant, or in a year.

I do express my desires to God for safety, for protection, for long life — for me, for those I love, even often for strangers.  I believe that He absolutely can provide that, and I get to see times when I’m convinced that He has done that against all odds.  But it doesn’t happen all the time, in every situation.

So, like the patients I visited yesterday, I struggle with the thought, “I can’t believe God would…”  It’s not a lack of faith, but more an admission of my lack of understanding His ways.

I’m okay with that struggle because I know, whether He chooses to change the events of this life or not, that He’s made a piece of us immortal, a piece of us that will live forever without the effects of the disease, the accident, or the results of a willful act of another.  And for that I’m so very grateful.

Caregiving: Avoiding People With Toxic Behaviors

Posted in Caregiving, Illness on March 4th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

In yesterday’s post, I recommended avoiding including people in your support community that are always saying, “You should…,” and people who always want to tell you their stories.

That’s because these people can be toxic to your well-being and/or to the the well-being of the person you’re caring for.

I realize that’s pretty strong language to apply to well-intentioned people, saying that they can be toxic.  But unfortunately, it’s accurate.

People who begin every conversation with the phrase, “You should…,” are saying, in effect, “What you’re doing (or not doing) now is wrong.  You should be doing what I think is right.”  When we hear that over and over again, we subconsciously and even consciously begin to believe it is true.  It’s like taking small doses of poison over a period of time.  Eventually it does it’s work on us.

The other group of people who have toxic effects on caregivers and on those suffering illness are those that tell story after story, either about their experiences or someone else’s experiences with something sort of like what you’re experiencing.  Sometimes these stories are told to offer hope, but more often, they’re about getting attention by telling a dramatic story of a bad decision or something gone wrong or a bad doctor or hospital or skilled nursing facility.  The implication is that you are headed in the same direction unless you listen to this person’s advice.

Certainly, we all need advice from time to time.  None of us are knowledgeable enough on our own to handle all situations.  But when we need advice, we are well served to seek that advice from professionals we respect who are experts in the area we need assistance in.  We then need to take their advice into consideration and plot a course of action.

When friends and acquaintances begin undermining our confidence in ourselves and our decisions, self-doubt and paralysis soon result.  And we become unable to be effective caregivers or deal with the medical issues those we are caring for face.

One of the boundaries you need to impose for your well-being is putting distance between yourself and these folks.

And if you’re someone who catches yourself frequently saying, “You should…,” or often wanting to tell dramatic stories to caregivers or people going through severe illnesses, please consider the effects of this behavior, and resolve to become more supportive.